London: Never too old for Primary
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The Church News features members of the Church who are 80 years of age or older who are serving in ward or stake callings.
At 90 years of age, and 60 years after joining the Church, Dougald McKeown has been called into Primary for the very first time.
In 2010, Brother McKeown was called to teach the 7-year-olds in the London North Ward, London England Hyde Park Stake.
"It was a surprise to be asked but I've never turned down a calling in six decades. I am just pleased to be there. Of course, at my age, I'm pleased to be anywhere!" quipped Brother McKeown, who is well-known for his wit and humour.
"More seriously, I still remember things I was taught when I was 7, even though that is now more than 83 years ago. I attended a church in Northern Ireland where I grew up and an old farmer told us stories from the Bible.
"Of course, the world that the children in my class are growing up in has changed tremendously. We had no mobile phones or computers. In fact, we got our first wireless radio when I was 13 years old. But the gospel is still true and the teachings of the scriptures are still just as relevant."
Brother McKeown's life has been one of leadership and service. He first served as branch president in 1954 before being called onto the district presidency in 1958, which covered 18 branches across 10,000 square miles in the south of England. When the Hyde Park Stake was organized in 1961 (the second stake in Britain, after Manchester), Brother McKeown was called as a bishop for the first time. He was then called onto the stake presidency in 1967 before being invited to serve in a full-time capacity as the president of the London England Temple from 1968-73.
After this, he was asked to become purchasing agent for the Church in Europe and Africa, which meant moving from London to Lichfield. He was again called as branch president, this time in Burton-on-Trent. Again, he was called to serve as bishop, once more in Lichfield.
He was released when Brother McKeown and his wife, Grace, were called on a full-time mission in 1980, serving at the Hyde Park visitors center for 18 month, during which time 130 people joined the Church. Brother and Sister McKeown almost immediately accepted another full-time mission as directors of the Family History Center. It was during this time, in 1982, that Brother McKeown was set apart as a stake patriarch. In his service in this role, he has given nearly 1,000 patriarchal blessings.
Brother McKeown said he shares some of his favorite scriptures with the Primary children. "I try to pass on some of the teachings that have meant so much to me over the years, which I memorized in my youth. For example, 'Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths' (Proverbs 3:5-6). This beautiful counsel has helped me in my walk with the Lord. I hope the children will remember the feelings I have felt when sharing my beliefs about the gospel and the re-established Church of Jesus Christ."
In addition to fulfilling his calling in Primary, Brother McKeown serves as a home teacher to several families.
Brother McKeown exemplifies Psalm 92:13-14: "Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing."